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The 6th EMBA Congress in Warsaw

EMBA President presents honorary membership of EMBA to Professor Maria Katarzyna Borszewska–Kornacka, President of the Polish Society of Neonatology and Head of the Scientific Council of the Human Milk Bank Foundation. With Dr Aleksandra Wesolowska

 

Under the heading ‘New Horizons in Human Milk Banking’, the 6th EMBA Congress recently took place, providing new insights into current research topics, discussing updated recommendations and inspiring us all anew to the work around donor milk banks. In order to make the congress possible despite the still prevailing pandemic situation, a hybrid form was chosen for its implementation. The two day congress took place from 15th to 16th October 2022 in Warsaw organized by EMBA and Dr Aleksandra Wesolowska, Assoc. Prof, the dedicated host of this year’s congress.


EMBA Vice President, Professor Sertac Arslanoglu chairs Session 1 which included the presentation: Protective factors in human milk against COVID-19given by Professor Hans Van Goudoever (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

 

A total of 197 participants attended the congress from five continents. Of these, 67 were in Warsaw and 130 followed the lectures and discussions online. For the Polish and Ukrainian participants in the auditorium, all lectures were simultaneously translated into their national language.

The Congress was opened with a warm welcome from the current EMBA president, Professor Enrico Bertino, followed by greetings from local authorities, Vice Rector for International Relations, Development and Promotion Paweł Wlodarski. A welcome speech was also given by Paloma Cuchi, Representative of the World Health Organisation to the Republic of Poland and representatives of Polish healthcare providers – the Polish Neonatology Society and the Polish Society of Perinatal Medicine.

Later on, in a detailed and exciting lecture, Professor Maria Katarzyna Borszewska–Kornacka, President of the Polish Society of Neonatology since 2012, Head of the Scientific Council of the Human Milk Bank Foundation, gave an overview of the history of Polish milk banks. For her sustained work in the field of breastfeeding and donor milk banking she was appointed an honorary member of EMBA.

Scientific lectures on the following topics were given from national and international speakers (9 countries):

  • breastfeeding and human milk donation in the time of COVID-19
  • (maternal diet and human milk composition
  • new horizons in human milk research
  • donor human milk: definitions, regulations, legislation
  • practical aspects of human milk banking
  • the future of human milk banking

In addition to the invited speakers, researchers from all over the world shared their knowledge or experience in the short oral communications. These included: “ghost microbiota” (Italy), NMR metabolomic profile of preterm human milk (Italy), a project for safe infant feeding in refugee camps (Shir) based on freeze-dried donor human milk (UK), strategies using social network tools to increase human milk donation during COVID-19 pandemic (Brazil), a program to ensure access to donor milk for newborns in need in low-resource settings (USA), the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human milk banks in Poland (Poland), experience of the first milk bank in Ukraine (Ukraine) and strategies and experience of group counselling in an antenatal clinic in India (India).

The Covid -19 pandemic brought donor milk bank experts closer together through the use of social media and virtual meetings all over the world. New networks in the field of milk banking arose such as the Global Alliance of Milk Banks and Associations (GAMBA), a group of experts in donor milk banking from more than 40 countries covering all continents which was founded in March 2020 by Gillian Weaver, aided by Dr Natalie Shenker. Rapidly developed online tools and social media campaigns, such as those shared by EMBA, have also brought communication between milk banks and donors or between individual milk banks closer together in many places. Nevertheless, the exceptional global situation also led to emergencies in the feeding of premature infants in many countries.

The NAWA satellite meeting took place at the Didactic Center of the Medical University of Warsaw on the day before the 2-day EMBA Congress. The organizing Committee consisted of Dr Aleksandra Wesołowska, Assoc. Prof, Leader of the Project NAWA, Professor Maria Katarzyna Borszewska–Kornacka, Head of the Scientific Council of the Human Milk Bank Foundation and Professor Gabriela Olędzka, PhD, Head of the Medical Biology Department. Together, they opened the meeting comprising eight lectures during which the health-promoting importance of human milk donation was highlighted. The NAWA meeting ended with a social event in the evening at the ‘Kuźnia Kulturalna’ restaurant in Warsaw.

EMBA members will be able to view the recorded lectures in the member’s section on the EMBA website (https://europeanmilkbanking.com/). If you would like to join EMBA, simply click the ‘Join us’ button on the website. We are looking forward to the next EMBA international event which will be the third EMBA Research Congress and you are invited to join us in Milan on the 12-13 May 2022. The call for abstracts will be announced soon on the EMBA website. The next international EMBA Congress in 2023 will hopefully be allowed to take place as a face-to-face event in the beautiful city of Madrid in Spain.

Dr Corinna Gebauer

Please note: The recordings of all the presentations are currently available for congress delegates and EMBA members to view, together with online access to the additional congress events.

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